Review: Antoinina Bevan Zlatar, Reformation Fictions: Polemical Protestant Dialogues in Elizabethan England, (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2011).

This book analyzes a range of Elizabethan Protestant dialogues with an eye towards providing a rehabilitative rhetorical and historicist reading of these often misunderstood and neglected texts.  It differs from previous studies of the genre by focusing specifically on a limited corpus, rather than attempting a more broad (and thus vague) collective understanding of varied subgenres.  In particular, Antoinina Bevan Zlatar argues for an increased emphasis to be placed on the strong fictive elements of these dialogues.  Continue reading

A devil with a double voice: conversion and possession in early modern Provence

Along with the other members of the Conversion Narratives team, I’m currently in Washington, DC, preparing for the Renaissance Society of America Conference: a three-day event with a dizzying array of papers and panels. We’re lucky enough to be working in the wonderful Folger Shakespeare Library, whose slightly gloomy mock-Elizabethan interior makes the perfect setting for my discovery of a very peculiar story.

In 1613, a book was published in London, telling readers about The admirable historie of the possession and conversion of a Penitent woman. Seduced by a Magician that made her to become a Witch, and the Princes[s] of Sorcerers in the Country of Province [Provence]. The story is a striking one: an ambitious Priest called Lewes Gawfridi, living in Marseille, became a sorcerer thanks to some ill-advised leisure reading. Continue reading